President Hillary Rodham Clinton lay in bed, contemplating her eventful life. How did a little girl from Illinois/Arkansas/New York ever get this far? True, voter turnout a year earlier had been a bit less than expected, but of the 30 million who’d bothered to vote, she was grateful that she and Vice President Obama (a necessity for party unity) had received a majority of the electoral vote over the surprise republican ticket of Ron Paul and Joe Lieberman. But here she was, President of the United States. "At last", she said under her breath, "I can be my real self". On the notepad next to the bed she scribbled, "Find a real self. Arrange briefings".
Suddenly, she heard a strange noise. She was alone in the family quarters. After the state dinner for the Prime Minister of Indonesia, sponsored by the Lippo Group, she and the Prime Minister had both left early, but Bill had graciously agreed to keep the Prime Minister’s wife company. The noise sounded like the wind blowing, but the windows were closed. Getting up, she put on her robe and was entering the hallway when she saw it: A strange figure which could only be described as….ghostly. Her eyes widening, President Clinton took a step back, and then recogized the apparition: "Eleanor Roosevelt!" she exclaimed. "Can this really be you?"
"Yes, my dear, it’s Eleanor", replied the translucent image.
"Why are you here?"
"It’s urgent that I speak to you again. Before this night is out, you’ll receive 2 more visitors from beyond this existential plane. I’ll be followed by a ghost of administrations present, and a ghost of administrations future".
The President looked quizzical. "This is beginning to sound like something that should happen on Christmas Eve."
"We couldn’t wait that long" replied the ghost. "You were mucking up the country too badly."
"But what is your message?"
As the figure in front of her blurred and dissolved, she heard the voice say, "It’s a message I got too late, my dear: Government isn’t the answer". And then the president was alone. She stood there a moment, shaken. "I must be dreaming", she said as she went back to bed.
It seemed as though her head had barely hit the pillow when the president awoke abruptly, but the clock read 3:15 a.m. And there was another noise. And another apparition. And another voice. Oh! This was too bizarre! For standing in front of her was, without question, the image of the world’s only Nobel Prize and Academy Award winner! The late Vice President Gore, who, only months before, had succumbed to the ravages of dutch elm disease. "Al", she said. "This can’t be happening".
"Madam President, it really is. And Eleanor was right. I, too, have learned that government isn’t the answer".
"But Al! You’ve always agreed with the need for better health care. Concern for the environment. More federal benefits for the disadvantaged and more federal regulations to implement them. And we’re both disciples of the New Deal. How can you turn your back on all that you stood for?"
"Because it isn’t working. The tax burden is crushing the middle class and slashing capital investment, and still it can’t cover the skyrocketing deficits. There isn’t even any money left to invest in solar, geothermal, and wind power. I can see that now. Consider it an inconvenient truth". And he was gone.
The president sank into a chair, shuddering with disbelief. This was too incomprehensible!
She dozed off, then suddenly awoke. The clock read 4:30 a.m. Bill was still downstairs, or somewhere. And there before her was the third figure, floating in midair in the bedroom. "Oh my God", said the president. "Chelsea! But you look so old. And surely you’re not–".
"I’m fine, mother. I’m fine. But I had to take the astral plane to get here. All the other planes are late arriving."
"Chelsea, you can’t believe how this night has gone! First Eleanor Roosevelt, and then Al Gore, and now you. And why have you aged so? You look nearly 50."
"You have to be at least 35 to be president, Mom. You know that."
"What?" said President Clinton to President Clinton. "You’re president?"
"Not yet, of course. You’re still president. But after President Jeb Bush got involved in the third, fourth, and fifth Persian Gulf wars, there was a mandate for change, and so here I am. Or there I will be."
"I’m so happy for you, Chelsea. But why have you joined Eleanor and Al in visiting me in this manner?"
"Because I, too, now know that government isn’t the answer. Goodness knows I ought to realize it. It shouldn’t take 500,000 devalued dollars to buy a Toyota, but it does, and that’s the only choice after the last Ford and GM dealerships went under from the depression of 2029. Millions would be unemployed if they weren’t streaming across the border for jobs in the breakaway Republic of New Mexico. Thank heavens I established diplomatic relations with New Mexican President For Life Bill Richardson before his term expired. We’re managing to keep the country fed under the Food for Nuclear Secrets program, but I don’t know how much longer that’ll work, since the Chinese are discovering all the new nuclear secrets. We’ve had to abandon your program of granting every American a million dollars because it gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. There just weren’t any taxpayers left to support it and, would you believe it? The rest of the world stopped bailing us out by buying our T-bills. Something about being a bad risk, even with the United Nations program of first world debt forgiveness. We’re in bad shape, Mom. And you and Dad are two of the major reasons why."
The elder President Clinton sat there, in stunned silence. The minutes passed. She looked again at the clock. It read 7:08 a.m. and the sun was coming up. She must have fallen back asleep. But she was suddenly energized! There was still time! Chelsea had said so before she disappeared. Still time to change! She hit the intercom button and summoned her chief of staff. There would be changes! As the bedroom door opened, President Clinton was exclaiming, "No way that my daughter will be succeeded in office by President Jenna Bush!"
And White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said, "God bless us everyone".